Another story completed. This is the fourth in my 100-themes challenge series. I'm not quite happy with the ending of this one, but I'm pleased how the rest worked out. The story was inspired off the theme and a dungeon conversation that was omitted from the game script. I hope this is as enjoyable for you as the others.
The soft hiss of heavy rain filled Naoto's ears as she stood under Yasogami's awning, watching the drops as they hit the ground. The sleuth sighed softly, pulling the fabric of her school uniform closer as a icy breeze picked up, sending a shiver down her spine. He's running late…
"Naoto? What are you still doing here?" The sleuth jumped, turning around, eyes widening as they met a pair of silver orbs.
"S-Senpai, I…" Naoto paused hesitantly, glancing down at the ground. Don't act childish. If you make a scene of it he'll suspect foul-play. "I'm… waiting for Yakushiji-san. He doesn't get off work for another hour and…"
"…And? Is something wrong?"
"I… forgot to check the weather this morning. I don't have an umbrella with me. My home, as you know, isn't close to the school and since you suggested we go into the TV world tomorrow, I cannot allow myself to risk getting a cold." The sleuth sighed softly, staring out at the rain, frustrated. "If the storm had gotten any weaker, I would have simply run for it… but it only seems to be growing stronger and the school administration doesn't approve of students lingering in the halls after club hours—otherwise I'd still be waiting inside."
"I see…" Souji muttered softly, looking out into the rain, slowly turning the handle of his umbrella in his hands. "Naoto-kun, would you like to walk home together?"
"H-huh? Senpai, there isn't any need for that. Yakushiji-san will—"
"—be here in over an hour." Souji cut Naoto off, shaking his head. "Isn't staying out here in the cold and rain more risky? I'd feel much better if I could walk you home." He laughed softly as Naoto's mouth moved in silent protest before speaking up again. "You have your phone, don't you? If you call Yakushiji-san, I can explain the situation and apologize for any inconvenience it might cause."
The detective shook her head slowly, a faint smile gracing her lips as she spoke. "That won't be needed, Senpai. I can call him from the landline once I arrive home. I am most grateful for your offer and… despite my normal reluctance to accept the gesture… I believe it would be wise to do so today. As long as causes no trouble on your part."
"Not at all," Souji smiled, opened his umbrella, holding it over both their heads. "Shall we be going?"
Naoto nodded, shifting closer to Souji to avoid getting wet as they walked. They walked slowly together, speaking quietly with him of the events that had happened in school that day, and plans for tomorrow. Locations for training within the TV World were carefully discussed between the two and chosen upon their current strength and what would most likely help them proceed quickly.
"A few weeks ago Rise-san mentioned that she noticed the presence of a strong shadow at the—" Naoto hesitated, "—at…the location in which my Shadow was seen. We've yet to return and take care of it, and although it isn't of importance now, we should dispose of it before the week is done."
Souji nodded in agreement, stopping outside the gates that lead to Naoto's house, glancing at a black car in the driveway. The sleuth followed his gaze, wincing as she saw the vehicle, forcing a small chuckle.
"I didn't expect Grampa to be home already. Had I known, I would have simply called him and asked that he bring the car instead."
"Do you need me to walk you to the door?"
"No, this is fine. You should hurry inside, Senpai. I'm sure you have a fair amount of homework and we're both going to need as much rest as we can get to prepare for tomorrow."
Souji nodded, smiling softly. "If you're sure… I'll see you later then, have a good evening."
"You as well, Senpai. I thank you for walking me here; I owe you a favor now."
"Hm?" The silverette chuckled, "Not at all. You helped me prepare. That is more than enough. Now hurry inside before you become colder than you already are. And you still need to call Yakushiji, right?"
A faint blush dusted Naoto's cheeks as she nodded, slipping from the shielding of the umbrella and running towards her door.
"I'll see you again, Senpai!" She called, opening waving over her shoulder before opening the door and quickly slipping inside, leaning against the wooden barrier as she shut it. Senpai…
Souji lead the way through the familiar green hallways of the 'secret laboratory', motioning for the others to stop as he peered around a corner, sighing in relief when he saw that no Shadows were waiting to attack.
"Alright, this will do, we can take a break here. Yukiko? Can you heal everyone?"
"Of course, Souji-kun. If everyone could take a seat—"
Souji leaned his sword against the nearby wall, stretching his arms over his head as he made his way across the hall to where Naoto was sitting, polishing her revolver with a pale-blue cloth, examining the weapon carefully. He took a seat on her right, causing the sleuth to look up in question, blinking slowly.
"Huh? You want to talk, Senpai?" Souji nodded, resting his head against a pipe on the wall.
"Were you able to contact Yakushiji?" Naoto blinked, tilting her head.
Souji nodded again, reaching into his pocket and producing several small candies, offering one to Naoto who shook her head politely.
"When I walked you home a few days ago since you'd forgotten your umbrella. Were you able to contact him in time before he went to the school?"
"O-oh!" Naoto nodded quickly. "Y-yes, I—"
"Huh?" Teddie, who had been pacing up and down the hall out of boredom stopped as he passed the pair, looking at Naoto in curiosity. "Umbrella…? Oh!" The bear snickered, earning a frown from the detective.
"Is something humorous to you, Teddie?"
"Nao-chan, why don't you tell him?"
"Tell me what?" Souji asked before Naoto could speak.
"How she lied about not having an umbrella…"
"Wh-what are you saying!?" A dark blush spread across Naoto's cheeks as she stood up quickly, thanking Yukiko half-heartedly for the healing spell she'd just received, glaring at Teddie as the blush grew darker. "I never said did anything of the sort! I believe we have stalled here long enough."
The sleuth walked briskly across the hall and grabbed Souji's sword, shoving it into the silverette's hand as she shoved her polishing rag into her pocket, avoiding his eyes.
"Naoto-kun…?" Yukiko stared at the sleuth in concern. "Did something happen? Are you not feeling well? You look flushed. .. You're not getting sick, are you?"
"I'm fine, Yukiko-senpai. Teddie… I suggest you walk behind Senpai for your own sake. I will follow up from behind and monitor that no Shadows will attempt to sneak up and surprise us."
Souji would only smile as he watched Naoto walk behind a very confused Yukiko, who was trying to get Teddie to stop laughing long enough to explain what was so funny.
"Well then, shall we move on?"
Yukiko sighed in annoyance as Teddie's laughter doubled in volume, nodding to Souji, motioning for him to start walking as she pushed the bear from behind. Glancing over the raven-haired girl's shoulders, Naoto's eyes met with his and their gazes locked for several seconds before the sleuth looked away, the dark blush renewed on her cheeks.
"You know… I hear it's supposed to rain tomorrow, you should all check the weather." Souji noted absently as he turned around and started down the hall, gripping the hilt of his blade tightly. Yukiko gave Teddie a sharp prod in the side with her fan, finally silencing the bear's laughter as he ran after their leader, quickly followed by Yukiko.
Naoto remained still, staring at Souji, having been the only one who heard the weather statement. She chuckled softly, realizing that it had only been meant for her ears anyway. As she hurried after the others, she couldn't help but smile, making a mental note to check the weather when she got home.
I suppose it doesn't matter either way… I'm sure I'll end up 'forgetting' again.